When a loved one dies, property and assets must go through administration if the property is owned in only that person’s name. A family without a trust, joint owners, or beneficiaries may need to distribute estate assets under the watch of the probate court in order to ensure all actions are carried out according to the terms of the will.
What is the Probate Process in Michigan?
The term probate refers to the process of proving the validity of a will. Today, it refers to the entire legal process of settling an estate after a person passes away. In most cases, the appointed representative—usually a family member—files the probate case with the court. Their task will be to sort through all of the financial business the decedent left behind with the court’s help.
The probate process distributes assets after your or a loved one’s death to heirs and/ or devisees of the will. Probate will be required for any assets you own in your name or made payable to your estate.
Ensuring that your assets’ ownership aligns with your estate planning goals is vital to avoid probate. Imagine you own an asset in the name of your trust, an annuity, or a retirement account with a right of survivorship or joint tenants. These assets will bypass the Michigan probate process.
Avoid Probate Court in Michigan with Proper Planning
Probate court can be a lengthy, expensive, and public process. It is not uncommon for clients to want to keep their financial affairs and family matters private after they die. Malicoat Law’s experience in probate and trust administration can assist with proper estate planning and avoiding probate.
Generally, you can avoid most probate matters and will contests through proper planning with an experienced probate lawyer in Michigan. Our lawyers will develop a plan for your family’s future today, while building a lasting relationship with you for the years and changes to come. Sometimes probate cannot be avoided, such as when a loved one dies without leaving a will. When the time comes, we will guide families through the process and work to make the estate administration process as smooth as possible.
Understanding Michigan Probate Attorney’s Role
Knowing the role of the Michigan probate lawyer is an essential step to take at the beginning of the probate process, regardless of whether you are the Personal Representative or an heir of the estate. Understanding the role of the lawyer hired by the Personal Representative of the estate is one of the most significant ways to avoid conflict in probating a Michigan estate. Personal Representatives typically do not understand the probate process and leave the work to their lawyers.
Some of the shared responsibilities of an Personal Representative that a lawyer assists with include:
Duty to communicate. The duty to notify the beneficiaries the estate exists, identify the Personal Representative, provide a copy of the inventory, provide copies of court filings, generally explain documents that require a beneficiary’s signature, etc. This duty to communicate is not the same as an attorney-client relationship, which means there is no attorney-client privilege, and the attorney cannot give legal advice.
Duty to account. Provide regular estate accountings, including explaining funds paid out of estate accounts for expenses.
Duty to treat all beneficiaries equally. To distribute estate funds simultaneously, if a question arises about how something in the Will is to be interpreted, the attorney cannot interpret it, and the court must interpret it.
Your Probate Attorney in Michigan
Our Midland, MI law office will provide sound legal advice to guide you, or a loved one through the Michigan probate and estate administration process. In the event of a loved one’s death, our probate and estate administration attorneys will facilitate the transition of assets quickly and efficiently.
Malicoat Law is here to help you and your loved ones understand estate planning, elder law, business planning, probate, and trust administration. Our Midland law firm welcomes the opportunity to consult with new clients in Midland and surrounding Michigan areas to learn more about how we can help meet your legal needs.